World War I veteran's service set for hour of armistice 75 years ago

November 11, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Staff Writer

A memorial service for William G. Happ was set for 11 a.m. today, the hour of the German surrender 75 years ago that ended World War I, at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary's County.

The Army veteran, who was 100 and the oldest resident of the home, died there Friday of renal failure.

He learned of the surrender -- which went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month -- at Fort McHenry where he was sent after enlisting in 1918.

He served in the Army medical department and was discharged in 1919, his discharge papers noting his "honest and faithful service" with no absences from duty. He was awarded the bronze Victory Medal, and his separation pay, including a bonus, was $74.55.

Born near the Cross Street Market in South Baltimore during the presidency of Grover Cleveland, he attended city public schools.

After the war, he worked as a clerk for Butler Brothers Wholesale Corp., a novelty company, leaving there in 1950, when he joined the Hanlon Paint Co. He retired two years later.

He married the former Naomi Walther of Baltimore in 1922, and they lived for many years on Spaulding Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. She died in 1952.

His son, Harry W. Happ of Redwood City, Calif., said, "My dad loved telling stories about the old days in South Baltimore and particularly the Wright Brothers. He would say, 'You know, I didn't think those two brothers in North Carolina would ever get that thing off the ground.' "

He celebrated his last birthday in May at Charlotte Hall with family, friends and residents and a cake decorated with 100 candles.

He was awarded the World War I 75th commemorative McCormick Medal in October, which was struck by the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation and was given to the surviving veterans of the conflict.

"He was a great whistler," recalled his son. "He loved walking and making up songs as he walked along, and if he had been able to write music, he would have composed some pretty good songs."

After the services at Charlotte Hall on Old Charlotte Hall School Road, Mr. Happ's body will be interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Woodlawn.

In addition to his son, he is survived by a sister, Grace Ey of Towson; three grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wheelchair Fund, c/o Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Route 2, Box 5, Charlotte Hall, Md. 20622.

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